each stage in the season, And he asked her "how Doctor
MacDonald and his folks were.
"They're pretty well," she said, "except for Professor Ball,
He's failing, they say. I haven't seen him in a long time, but
that's what they say."
"And yore pa?" Willie Proudfit asked, "I hear'd he'd not
been so well off, and I was meanen to ast you."
She did not answer for a moment, then replied slowly:
"He's all right. Thank you." Then, in a voice that was
suddenly brisk, as though she had gathered herself for the
special effort, she added: "But there's been a lot of sickness
round Bardsville. You know how it seems, some years."
Yes, Willie Proudfit agreed, it looked that way some years,
And he asked her how other things were down near Bards-
ville. She answered him, then began to ask him about people
whom she had heard about in this section, where their places
lay, how much land they had.
Now and then Adelle Proudfit filled out some detail for
him, or named a name. But Sissie did not speak the whole
time, and Sylvestus only once. When, for the first time, the
heat lightning flickered along the horizon, silhouetting the
mass of the hillside breaking toward the valley, Lucille
Christian said: "Look, lightning. Maybe we'll get some
rain tomorrow." Then Sylvestus stirred in his chair at the
end of the porch. "Naw," he said heavily, "begging yore
pardon, but hit ain't gonna rain. That-air lightnen, hit's the
" We need it," Lucille Christian remarked.
"Hit's a drout," Sylvestus said, "a-ready, and sweat fer
Shortly afterward he rose from his chair, and without a
word moved away into the darkness.
The talk stopped as he walked away. Then Adelle Proudfit
declared: " He oughtn't to be a-goen off lak that. Not and
him worken daytime the way he does."
" Hit comes on him," Willie Proudfit said, " to be up and
a-walken in darkness. Sometimes."